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Scale Card Measuring Aids

By John Lester - images & text © 2003

Scale: Various, from 1:12 - 1:700
Instructions: Adequate
MSRP: $2.95 - $12.95 USD (~$4.08-17.91 CAN/ 2.59-11.38EUR) depending on product, available from The Scale Card
Overall Rating: 10 - extremely handy, especially when scratchbuilding.

Whether scratchbuilding or wanting to accurize a kit, you need some way to accurately measure on the model, and to convert between "real" and "scale".

[Click to enlarge]

[Card, explained]


Image: Scale Conversion card

You can use a calculator and scratch paper to determine how big to make things, but that gets tedious real fast. Fortunately, the folks at The Scale Card have tools to make it much easier.

First up is their various Scale Cards, available in many scales between 1:12 and 1:700. These have scale rulers across the left and bottom sides, to help you determine how large a piece would be in the chosen scale. In the center are average-sized male, female and toddler figures drawn in that scale. These are handy not only to guage the size of commercial figures, but can aid in sizing things such as furniture, armor, equipment and even interior compartments. Most cards (1:12-1:20.3 and 1:43-1:700 have a graphic that enables you to directly determine circular diameters in scale inches or feet as well.

Next are the Scale Rules, in both 6" and 24" lengths. Available in scales between 1:12 and 1:350, these are perfect for transferring measurements from plans to model, or for drawing plans for that matter. Thin, flexible and clear, they can be laid right against the model's surface. The six inch rules in the most popular scales are marked in two scales, which helps a lot in converting between the two (for instance, for converting measurements on a 1:72 plan to a 1:48 model).

Both the Rules and Cards are accurate to +/- .002". All are marked in English units (feet and inches), though there are a few metric rules as well. About the only drawback I can find to the range is that not all popular sci-fi scales are covered - yet, anyway. Missing are 1:60, 1/100 and anything greater than 1:700.

Using either tool is dead simple - line up two points and read like a ruler. As with any ruler, the most accurate measurements will be taken on the "tick marks" - interpreting between ticks is just asking for error. I would avoid using these things as straightedges for either pencils, scribers or knife blades. The plastic they're made from is pretty thin.

The last item reviewed is the Scale Conversion Card. This card contains five different tables that provide percentages to reduce or enlarge measurements between 32 popular scales. Simply select the starting scale, look to the box that says 100%, then go up or down the column to see the multiplier to get the conversion. For instance, do you want to enlarge 1/96 drawings to help in building a 1/35 Apollo CSM? Take the plans to the copier and make them 274.3% enlarged. The only draw back here is that there are separate charts for 1:32 - 1:96 and 1:96 - 1:700, so converting across them will mean two steps.


It's amazing how handy these things are, even when just trying to accurately place details on a model. They're inexpensive and easy to use - and highly accurate too boot.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 10 July 2003.